Japan Tests Next-Gen H3 Rocket In Preparation For Launch In 2021 – JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has completed final preparations for the first launch of its newest H3 rocket, the Tanegashima Space Center revealed in a live-streamed tech rehearsal on Wednesday.

The H3 is Japan’s next-generation heavy-lift launch vehicle, developed by JAXA in cooperation with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to replace the aging flagship H-IIA rocket.

The agency is currently conducting a series of comprehensive system tests of the rocket’s LE-9 liquid cryogenic engine at the future launch site.

During Wednesday’s so-called wet dress rehearsal (test-firing of engine with liquid propellant), the H3 launcher was loaded with cryogenic fuel in order to simulate operations leading up to the engine ignition stage.

According to JAXA, the new launch vehicle “realizes three elements of high flexibility, high reliability, and high cost-performance.” At its largest, 63-meter-long (206 feet), 574-ton configuration, the H3 is expected to lift over 7,900 kilograms to the geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The H3 rocket will be primarily used for commercial satellite launches, while its upgraded versions may be engaged in the future lunar missions.